Recoverista test: DIY product pics at home

For a while now I’ve been aware that the pictures I take of my patterns are severely less impressive than the patterns themselves. Naturally, that had to change. And since I am the know-it-all cheapskate you’ve come to adore – don’t argue, hmmmkay? – I decided I could very well take matters into my own hands!

Since I consider the outcome a success, I’d like to share my tactic! Because believe me, if my pictures came out looking like this, with that setup…there’s no limit to what YOU can do.


Step 1) Thinking about it

To start, find a suitable online tutorial.

First I found this one: The Ultimate DIY guide to Beautiful Product Photography
But instructions like ‘change the f/stop to the highest number’ were a bit over my head and I figure I’ll save this one for when I’ve made enough money to buy a grown-up camera.

Next up: WikiHow to Take Better Product Pictures for Free
‘Put a few sheets of plain white paper on a table and put the product on it.’ Noooow we’re talking! Since I understood the instructions AND it had ‘free’ in the title, I decided to go with this one.

Step 2) Doing it

In true Recoverista style, I made my setup in my bedroom while bleaching my hair. Also, there were quite a few impromptu tweaks:

  • I didn’t have a camera at hand so I used a phone.
  • I didn’t have a big enough white background sheet so I used the back of a roll of wrapping paper.
  • I didn’t have a tripod so I used a stack of books and rested my elbows on it.
  • I didn’t have a table so I used the windowsill and a chess board, weighed down by more books.

In summary, I did the lazy cheapskate’s version of the FREE tutorial:

setup Seriously. THAT lousy.

Step 3) Gimping it (or Photoshopping it, if you have Photoshop)

Gimp is essentially free Photoshop, with almost all the same features! The work flow is slightly less convenient, but for free software I think this is a really great option. Basic knowledge of photo editing software is advisable. You can find a free Gimp tutorial here: GIMP – The Basics and a free download here: Downloads


pr_smallcrocThese are basically cutouts from the previous setup.
By no means perfect or flawlessly sharp; but c’mon, for a shaky handheld picture of wrapping paper…not too shabby!

Step 4) Primping it

Inkscape is also free software (if Gimp is free Photoshop, this is free Illustrator), and comes with all kinds of layout and lettering options. Just like with Gimp, you have to invest a little time and effort to understand the program, but the internet has free tutorials galore!

pr_bothcrocsStep 5) Pimping it

The world is your oyster! Share your optimized images on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and what have you!

There you go; that’s all there is to it. If this isn’t the ‘for dummies’ edition, I don’t know what is. So next time you think you’re hopeless at taking good pictures…remember me and my shaky hands / wrapping paper / stack of books, and do us both proud!;)

PS. You can see my handiwork in action here:
Visit Recoverista’s Craftsy Pattern Store »

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